On record: BVDUB – Epilogues for the End of the Sky (Glacial Movements)

The apocalyptic title suggests a large scale work from BVDUB, aka Brock van Wey, one that deals with the end of mortality. Appearances are deceptive however. The End Of The Sky may in this case be the point where the sky stops being blue and moves to become the dark edges of the universe. Either way, there are some incredibly ambient moments to be enjoyed here.

What’s the music like?

BVDUB manages the delicate balancing act of creating long lasting atmospheres but also dropping in shorter, more melodic loops to keep the listener’s interest high. The music floats on a cushion of air, with a distant voice used for With Broken Wings and Giants Tall. Sparkling Legions Turn to Black uses a far off chant, conducting powerful emotion through carefully constructed foreground loops.

Meanwhile a delicate piano floats over the top of Footsteps Fade If Not Your Pain, the purest of sounds. Long, held background notes create a stillness over which slightly shorter patterns operate – with the addition of outdoor sounds and vocal fragments to create a scene of calm.

Does it all work?

Yes, on several levels. BVDUB creates some wondrously beautiful scenes through this album, conceived on a level that matches the title and the cover image. The tonal bases help, giving the music a clear anchor. This sequence, working extremely well in a single listen, is music that can be taken out from the whole and listened to in smaller chunks, or enjoyed as a whole that literally washes over the ears of the listener.

Is it recommended?

Wholeheartedly. BVDUB provides solace from the rush and incessant noise of everyday life, slowing things down, taking in the awesome scenery and surfing the wave of it.

Ben Hogwood

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On record: AWARE – The Book Of Wind (Glacial Movements)

Summary

Reading the titles given to the chapters of The Book Of Wind is revealing. They sound like an excerpt from a biblical tale, as though recounting Moses and his encounters with God. What they actually appear to be is the beginning of inspiration for this album by AWARE, the alias of Alexander Glück. Like his Glacial Movements label mates he operates largely without obvious rhythm and is free of a harmonic base, but responds to the imaginary text using vivid sound pictures.

What’s the music like?

The tale is told through music that is barely anchored to the ground, existing in a cloud that changes in consistency, density and colour. The 14 excerpts vary in mood and reach a natural apex in the storm halfway through. As the music builds towards this there is a bigger scale strongly implied by the powerful third track until he reached the mountain, while a powerful storm tore the mountains apart has almost visible clouds. Gradually the music subsides and reaches a softer place of rest by the end, the last track and went out dipping to almost inaudible levels before hints of earlier  music return.

Does it all work?

Yes, although the music itself is not quite as varied as the track titles imply it will be. It is a very impressive piece of writing though, the sections hang together very cohesively and the wide scope of the mountain and inclement weather are dominating features.

Is it recommended?

Yes, on the whole, once the lasting emotional power is harnessed.

Ben Hogwood

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On record: Johannes Malfatti – Surge (Glacial Movements)

johannes-malfatti

Summary

Johannes Malfatti is striking out on his own. Having worked as a member of Ensemble, where he has recorded for One Little Indian and worked with Björk among others, this is his first solo venture.

Surge is a description of slow-moving natural phenomena in sound, an observation that most of these processes in the natural world – glaciers, tectonic plates, icebergs and the like – move incredibly slowly.

What’s the music like?

Surge is a single block of sound and music lasting just under an hour. In keeping with several Glacial Movement releases it feels cold, from the early spray of white noise to the closing fade of the last big chord.

As befits his objective Malfatti makes his music move at an incredibly slow tempo, but as it proceeds it builds up power and a surprising depth of emotion. This happens through a huge block of almost completely static music that slowly progresses into audible rage from around five minutes in and keeps moving.

It is the start of a broadly structured canvas where the music ebbs and flows with progressively more powerful chords. By the end the textures have progressed to an incredibly thick block of sound that the listener can dive into, before the movement slows completely and the music fades away.

Does it all work?

Yes. Best heard on headphones, Surge is a powerful expanse that I found I appreciated more with repeated listening. It slows the brain down while engaging the mind with a vivid picture of deep blues and icy greys (for me at least!), moving from darkness to light and back again.

Writing music this slow is a brave move, but the risk pays handsome dividends here.

Is it recommended?

Very much so  – but make sure you have an hour to enjoy it, as Surge only works in a complete listen.

Ben Hogwood

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